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Herbert Jauch, “The Rise and Fall of the Basic Income Grant Campaign: Lessons from Namibia”

 

ABSTRACT: Namibia is still characterised by deep socio-economic inequalities, as economic structures have remained largely intact after independence. Poverty is still widespread and unemployment has remained high with women and youth being particularly affected. In 2002, the Namibian government’s Tax Commission proposed a universal cash grant as the most effective way to fight poverty and to reduce inequality. In 2004, the Basic Income Grant (BIG) Coalition was formed consisting of churches, trade unions and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in support of the proposed grant. It implemented a pilot project to practically demonstrate the effects of the grant. The chosen location was the village of Otjivero where each inhabitant received a monthly cash grant of N$100 (US$9)beginning in January 2008. A research team closely monitored developments and found that within one year the rates of poverty, child malnutrition and school drop-outs had fallen significantly. Economic activities increased, school results and residents’ health status improved while the crime rate and women’s economic dependency on men were reduced. Despite these results, the Namibian government did not implement the BIG and the coalition failed to ignite a mass campaign. The country’s largest trade union federation did not play an active role and its leadership withdrew from the coalition despite support for the BIG among union members. The introduction of a BIG in Namibia will depend on the ability to the BIG coalition to create pressure ‘from below’. Trade unions and youth organisations in particular will have to mobilise their membership and present the demand for the BIG as a form of economic justice. In terms of financial and economic resources, Namibia could easily afford a national BIG and its introduction is a question of political will.

Herbert Jauch, “The Rise and Fall of the Basic Income Grant Campaign: Lessons from Namibia.” Global Labour Journal, Vol. 6, No. 3 (2015)

Global Labour Journal

Global Labour Journal

About Karl Widerquist

Karl Widerquist has written 954 articles.

Karl Widerquist is an Associate Professor of political philosophy at SFS-Qatar, Georgetown University, specializing in distributive justice—the ethics of who has what. Much of his work involves Universal Basic Income (UBI). He is a co-founder of the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network (USBIG). He served as co-chair of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) for 7 years, and now serves as vice-chair. He was the Editor of the USBIG NewsFlash for 15 years and of the BIEN NewsFlash for 4 years. He is a cofounder of BIEN’s news website, Basic Income News, the main source of just-the-facts reporting on UBI worldwide. He is a cofounder and editor of the journal Basic Income Studies, the only academic journal devoted to research on UBI. Widerquist has published several books and many articles on UBI both in academic journals and in the popular media. He has appeared on or been quoted by many major media outlets, such as NPR’s On Point, NPR’s Marketplace, PRI’s the World, CNBC, Al-Jazeera, 538, Vice, Dissent, the New York Times, Forbes, the Financial Times, and the Atlantic Monthly, which called him “a leader of the worldwide basic income movement.” Widerquist holds two doctorates—one in Political Theory form Oxford University (2006) and one in Economics from the City University of New York (1996). He has published seven books, including Prehistoric Myths in Modern Political Philosophy (Edinburgh University Press 2017, coauthored by Grant S. McCall) and Independence, Propertylessness, and Basic Income: A Theory of Freedom as the Power to Say No (Palgrave Macmillan 2013). He has published more than a twenty scholarly articles and book chapters. Most Karl Widerquist’s writing is available on his “Selected Works” website (works.bepress.com/widerquist/). More information about him is available on his BIEN profile and on Wikipedia. He writes the blog "the Indepentarian" for Basic Income News.

The views expressed in this Op-Ed piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of Basic Income News or BIEN. BIEN and Basic Income News do not endorse any particular policy, but Basic Income News welcomes discussion from all points of view in its Op-Ed section.

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